Student instructors do roughly one third of the teaching at the University of Iceland, RÚV reports. These instructors are not unionised and their wages and working conditions are determined unilaterally by their employer. They have no sick leave or striking rights.
“I think the university is taking advantage of student teachers quite a lot, unfortunately,” says Védís Ragnheiðardóttir, doctoral student and chairman of the university’s doctoral students’ association. Védís, who holds a master’s degree, gets paid just over ISK 2,300 ($19.40/€17.20) per hour for teaching a ten-credit course.
The University of Iceland is the country’s largest and oldest institution of higher education. It has over 15,000 students in undergraduate and postgraduate programs. In recent years, student teachers have been responsible for about 30% of teaching at the university. Doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers have requested to join the Association of University Teachers, a trade union which would guarantee them employment rights such as sick leave, annual holiday entitlement, and access to vocational funds.
Associate Professor Michael Dal, who chairs the Association of University Teachers, says the group has discussed the issue with the university’s board, which “has taken on the issue well and has tried to make changes.”